Austin, Texas June 24, 2016
News Release from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Office
The Texas Attorney General’s Office has secured an Agreed Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction against a former immigration attorney, Paul A. Esquivel, his former associate attorney, Juan Carlos Penaflor, and former office manager, Olvia Martinez.
This final judgment stems from a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s Office against Defendants in September 2015. The State alleged that Esquivel, a disbarred immigration attorney, with offices in San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, and those employed under his direction, charged consumers thousands of dollars to file asylum applications on their behalf even though they did not qualify for such relief.
According to the lawsuit, Esquivel promised consumers a path to U.S. citizenship through his “Asylum Program” even though Esquivel knew the consumer was not eligible for asylum and the filing of the asylum application resulted in the consumer being placed in removal proceedings. Often, these consumers had other qualifying paths to citizenship, but Esquivel ignored those avenues and submitted Asylum Applications on their behalf and, usually, without their knowledge. Moreover, Esquivel failed to disclose the risk of deportation when applying for asylum.
Esquivel is now permanently banned from being involved in any immigration-related matter and has been assessed $750,000.00 in civil penalties. The judgment, entered by the Court on June 21st in Bexar County, also ordered Penaflor, who purchased Esquivel’s firms, to take all necessary steps to withdraw those asylum applications filed by Esquivel on a pro bono basis and refund consumers all monies paid to Esquivel on or after June 1, 2015.
Penaflor must also provide Esquivel’s former clients copies of their files without cost to the clients. Martinez, who is not an attorney, is permanently banned from owning a professional entity, such as a law firm, unless she is legally authorized to practice law in a jurisdiction of the United States and the JCP law firms shall not advertise that they are owned by an attorney unless such is the case.